Iraq PM offers cash-strapped Kurds salaries for oil

Iraq PM offers cash-strapped Kurds salaries for oil

BAGHDAD - Agence France-Presse
Iraq PM offers cash-strapped Kurds salaries for oil

AFP photo

Iraq’s federal government will pay the salaries of the cash-strapped Kurdish region’s employees if it halts its independent oil exports, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said late Feb. 15.

Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), facing a financial crisis due to low oil prices, has announced its employees will be paid partial salaries until further notice and that months of unpaid wages will be considered loans to the government.

“Give us the oil and I will give every employee in Kurdistan (their) salary,” Abadi said in an interview with Iraqiya state television.

The KRG has been independently exporting crude via Turkey from northern territory it controls since a deal with Baghdad on oil and revenue-sharing collapsed last year, a move the federal government considers illegal.

Abadi, who has previously put the KRG’s oil exports at over 600,000 barrels per day, said this amounts to the region’s share of the federal budget, which Baghdad is withholding.

“Exports from the region represent around 16 percent of the oil exported... from all Iraq, so the region has obtained its (share of the) budget,” he said.

The Kurdish austerity measures have sparked widespread anger among regional government employees, some of whom have protested or gone on strike.

Abadi has said he hopes the KRG will remain part of Iraq.